A few weeks ago the social media world was all abuzz with a posting called "Dear Fat People" from a comedienne named Nicole Arbour.
Some folks thought it was fantastic. Others were utterly outraged.
So, I went to watch the video for myself.
Now, you should know that I am fat.
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I am not fat because of medical reasons. here are no complicating factors.
I am overweight because for a very, very long time, I have eaten way more than I should and have almost adamantly refused to exercise.
There are no other reasons to explain my weight and it would be a false narrative to even try.
While I would have preferred Arbour take a different approach, nothing she said is not rooted in a truth -- at least as it applies to me. However, this was a painful truth I had already come to realize on my own last winter without the assistance of Arbour's less-than-inspiring video.
Last spring, I shared with my congregation my struggle and they have joined me in addressing the reality of my situation and helped me be 45 pounds lighter at the writing of this article.
How did they do that? It started with grace.
After I confessed my sin (and yes, not caring for the body you have been given is sinful), I started to receive emails and notes and phone calls from our worshiping community. Some expressed relief that I finally recognized in myself what they had been able to see for some time but were afraid of hurting my feelings by telling me.
Some shared they were facing the same struggle.
Some said that they were praying for me.
Then there was a second wave of contact from the physically fit in our congregation -- the runners, CrossFit folks and health nuts.
When that group started to reach out, I got nervous because these were the folks who already "got it." They already know what they are doing, how to do it, and probably had been doing it for years.
That's the group that taught me the most. What I discovered is health is a passion for them. They have embraced it as a way of life and seeing all of the benefits of it, want it not only for themselves but for those they care about, including me.
They do not keep health as their little secret, afraid if others discover it, there will be less for them.
They also know health is a long-term commitment, not a short-term goal.
So they embrace a level of patience not often seen in the rest of the world. They willingly share apps, websites, meal plans and exercise tips etc., without the slightest hesitation.
They also don't expect me to be able to run as fast as them or to be able to make my own non-fat, gluten-free, organic, basil pesto hummus just yet. They do lovingly push me to give it a try without a side of judgment to go with it!
To me, that's church. Church is a community of believers who want the very best for each other and the world and we believe very best comes from knowing and walking with Jesus Christ.
The problem is churches don't always demonstrate grace or patience or love. Instead, what is often communicated is judgment, hatred, and ridicule. People can't hear truth (which churches should never shy away from proclaiming) when it is couched in condescension and arrogance.
If Jesus is who we love and who we are passionate about, then we need to give him away with joy and grace and reckless abandon.
We're not going to lose anything by sharing Jesus. We're going to make the world a hopeful, more grace-filled place.
Truth hurts sometimes.
The truth of Christ will bring you peace and joy always -- no joking!
The Rev. Hope Lee, lead pastor of Kirkwood Presbyterian Church and The Well, can be reached at 941-794-6229, firstname.lastname@example.org or biggreenchurch.org. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday's Herald written by local clergy members.